PCI 2.0 vs. PCI 3.0: What are the differences?

Editorial Team

3 min read
Customer inserting credit card into Clover Mini

Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is a set of guidelines that govern data security for merchants who capture, process, transmit, or store credit or debit card information. In order for your merchant account to remain in good standing, you must regularly maintain compliance with the PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) outlined by the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC).

As with most regulatory guidelines, PCI standards evolve with time, usually to reflect the changing needs or emerging data security threats. The first set of standards was established in December 2004 (PCI 1.0). Since then, the payment industry has benefited from two major updates including: 

The key differences between PCI 2.0 and 3.0

There were a number of important changes outlined in PCI DSS 2.0 versus those in 3.0. The biggest differences were centered around these main themes summarized below.

1. Educational Awareness

PCI compliance is a critical aspect of secure payment processing, but many merchants are unaware of PCI’s importance or application. The 3.0 update resolved this by helping to establish a “culture of security” through educating merchants and their employees about liability, accountability, and fraud protection throughout the entire organization.

To accomplish this, the guidelines were streamlined and written in simpler language to help merchants see the importance of PCI compliance and understand what is involved.

2. “Business as usual” best practices

PCI 3.0 included a new set of best practices for implementation to help make compliance an integral part of every business’s operations. Rather than conduct annual validation exercises before upcoming security audits, companies were encouraged to weave in these best practices on a regular basis, helping to make compliance both seamless and painless.

3. Clearer intent and testing

Under PCI 2.0, requirements for data security system penetration testing weren’t as strict. PCI 3.0 added more rigorous requirements to help ensure merchants scanned for vulnerabilities in a manner more consistent with the intended spirit of these mandated penetration tests.

4. Shared responsibilities

PCI DSS 3.0 also removed much of the confusion over who was ultimately responsible for payment fraud prevention. Version 3.0 made it clearer that all stakeholders within the payment transaction chain must take proactive steps to protect credit card information from hackers and thieves. This included businesses that outsourced IT operations to a third party. All participants would be held responsible in the event of fraud.

Need help with PCI compliance?

Let us help you update your payment processing needs to provide a safer customer purchasing experience. To learn how we can help, schedule a consultation with a Clover Business Consultant today.


Please note, as of March 31, 2022, the newest version of PCI DSS 4.0 applies. Merchants should consult the PCI Security Standards Council for the most updated version.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Readers should contact their attorneys, financial advisors, or tax professionals to obtain advice with respect to any particular matter.

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